News / Africa

Hunger Expected to Continue in Niger Despite Good Rains

A Nigerien vendor, left, measures out millet, which has doubled in price in the local market, for a client in the village of Tamou, 60 kilometers outside Niamey, Niger, (File)
A Nigerien vendor, left, measures out millet, which has doubled in price in the local market, for a client in the village of Tamou, 60 kilometers outside Niamey, Niger, (File)

Strong rains are boosting hopes for a good harvest in Niger, where nearly half the  people do not have enough to eat. So why are relief officials already predicting that the food crisis will continue into next year?

The strength of the international community's response to this year's food crisis in Niger helped feed more than 220,000 children under the age of five. At an in-patient therapeutic feeding center in the central Zinder region, cases of acute malnutrition have dropped from nearly 400 two months ago to less than 250 today.

But the need is still great. While more than 85 percent of children recover fully, the death rate is still nearly 8 percent. Other mothers leave the program before the treatment is complete. With seven full-time doctors and 41 nurses, the center has helped save the lives of children from the Zinder commune as well as the surrounding areas of Mirriah and Magaria.

"Things are improving slightly, but it is still extremely sobering," said Valerie Amos, the United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator and Undersecretary-general for Humanitarian Affairs. "This is a country where the development indicators are all very poor. Where you have population growth on a very large scale. I saw one woman today who had nine children. Four of them had died. There is huge amount of public education and awareness raising that needs to be done. It is a terrible thing to see children in that kind of situation."



Though acute malnutrition is on the decline, hunger in Niger is always a cycle. Even the best harvest will not last most families beyond February.

Despite good rains, many millet farmers are already deep in debt from last year's failed crops, so they will have less for themselves after paying off their loans.

In the village of Toumour, less than 60 kilometers from Chad, pastoralists who moved their cattle across the border lost nearly one-third of their herd to disease. Those who stayed behind lost as much as half their cattle. The U.N. says some isolated nomadic herders in northern enclaves lost everything.

While the U.N. Development Program has helped give pastoralists access to credit to rebuild their herds, Amos says more cattle and better rains alone can not solve Niger's structural malnutrition.

"It speaks to the structural issue," she noted. "You have very poor education indicators. You have a country that is quite complicated in the sense that you have people who are pastoralists. Some are nomadic. Some stay put. The country is vast with a small population. The infrastructure is poor. Agricultural development is not taking place at the kind of rate that it should. And it is also suffering the impact of climate change."

Relief officials say the response to this year's food crisis improved greatly after February's coup because military leaders were far more realistic about the challenges than the deposed government of Mamadou Tandja. As the country moves toward a new civilian government, Amos says what happens next is critical to Niger's long-term success.

"I hope that government will really look around and see what is happening to the people of Niger and put long-term, sustainable development at the top of its agenda," Amos said.

Voters in Niger decide whether to accept a new constitution later this month. If approved, it would lead to presidential elections in January, just as relief officials believe the next wave of hunger will begin.

You May Like

China Investigates Former Powerful Security Chief

Former security chief and member of Politburo Standing Committee, Zhou Yongkang, under investigation for suspected 'serious disciplinary violation' More

India, US Look to Reset Ties During Kerry Visit

This week's talks will be first high level interaction between two countries since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took charge More

Video Young African Leadership Program Renamed to Honor Mandela

YALI program, launched by President Obama in 2010, aims to build skills in business, entrepreneurship, public management and civic leadership More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid